Gov. Gina Raimondo unveiled her plan Wednesday afternoon to rebuild Rhode Island's post-coronavirus economy through better educational opportunities, job training for emerging industries, and support for small businesses.
"We need to embrace what we've learned during this crisis — embrace new technologies and new pathways for public health — and build upon it," the Democrat wrote in a preview of the plan, called RIse Together, released Wednesday.
"We need to look beyond a 'new normal' to a stronger, more innovative and more equal Rhode Island."
The plan also calls for new roads, schools, affordable housing and making the state a welcome place for manufacturers.
In a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Raimondo announced she plans to use $100 million of federal CARES Act funds to help small businesses with education and job training. Of that money, $50 million will assist businesses with specifics of reopening like plexiglass and cleaning supplies. Twenty percent of the funds will be set aside for minority-run businesses, Raimondo said.
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Her plan also addresses recent calls for more racial justice, Raimondo said.
"Over the last four months, we have seen the catastrophic effects of a nationwide system built on inequality," she wrote.
"As we rebuild, we must embrace this moment to advance the progress we have made in providing opportunity to all Rhode Islanders, regardless of race or zip code."
As of Wednesday, there were two new deaths as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. The death toll in the state now stands at 987. There were 52 new positive cases for a total of 17,640, according to health officials.
"There has not been a day that there hasn't been fatalities. This disease continues to kill Rhode Islanders every day. It's up to us to keep a lid on it," Raimondo said.
Despite rising case numbers over the last week, the governor said it wasn't "cause for panic" but an indication that the virus is still lurking.
"If you let your guard down, more people will die and more businesses will close," Raimondo warned, adding that people in their 20s need to be better at following the rules.
"We are not out of the woods. We are not even halfway through this fight," she said.
Crowding at state beaches continues to be a problem, the governor said, and visits are way up this year from last year.
While the governor wants people to be able to go to the beach, too many people aren't wearing masks, not socially distancing and parking illegally. For those reasons, parking at Misquamicut and Scarborough state beaches will be reduced to 25% capacity effective Thursday, Raimondo said.
"I'm sorry that we have to do this, but it is necessary," Raimondo said.